Wednesday 22 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland - RAIDER MODE

Want to play Mythic Bastionland, but don’t want to be a Knight?

Well, it’s probably the wrong game for... no... wait... what if you were a Raider from beyond the seas instead?

MYTHIC BASTIONLAND - RAIDER MODE

This is untested. To be honest it’s mostly written off the cuff.

Play the game as normal, but with the following changes:

Raiders, not Knights

Roll your character as normal, but do not take a Knight type. You do not automatically know Feats.

Instead pick 1 from each of the following lists. 

Every raider hides a Blade (d6).

Birth

  1. Ice: Take Monstrous Furs (A1, treat as plate).
  2. Stone: You know Focus.
  3. Sea: You can drink saltwater.

Childhood:

  1. Toil: You know Deny.
  2. Travel: You can Gallop as if you were a steed.
  3. Thorns: Attack as 3d6 when unarmed.

Now:

  1. Slaughter: You know Smite.
  2. Sail: You can speak with your ship’s spirit.
  3. Stories: Take a horn and masked helm (A1). The animal on your mask respects you.

If two Raiders in the same Company make the same choices then they immediately fight each other. Loser has to change one.

Gold, not Glory

You don’t gain Glory. Instead your reputation is measured in Gold.

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean gold, but represents the riches you have on taken and flaunted. Riches which you presumably gained by raiding. If a raider has a lot of gold then it’s usually safe to assume they carry a brutal reputation with them.

Even if you squander all your riches, the reputation rubs off. It’s like people look at you and think “yeah, if they wanted more gold they could absolutely take it”.

Gain 1 Gold when you successfully raid a Holding. Gain 2 if it’s a Seat of Power and you get some really good stuff.

Gain 1 Gold if you murder another Raider of higher Gold than you and take their stuff. Gain 2 if you totally humiliate them.

Trading and mercenary work might get you paid, but it won’t get you Gold.

0 Gold - Sea Worm: Other raiders see you as utterly disposable.

3 Gold - Sea Crow: Some raiders know your name, and you get a petty funeral if you die.

6 Gold - Sea Wolf: Even the greatest raiders know your name and will invite you aboard.

9 Gold - Sea Bear: Worthy of a proper funeral, and you’re in a few stories.

12 Gold - Sea Hawk: You should have died by now. It’s suspicious if you aren’t actively seeking death.

Ships, not Steeds

You serve on a Longship (7gd, A1) led by a Sea Wolf. Roll their Virtues on d12+6 and their Guard on 2d6.

The ship has enough axes (d8 hefty), shields (A1, d4) , and javelins (d6) for the whole crew.

The rest of the crew are a warband of Raiders: VIG 13, CLA 10, SPI 10, 4gd

Bad Reputation

Arrive in the Realm by water. Commoners who see you will hide, flee, or plead. If you consistently don’t kill them they might start to see you merely as dangerous traders.

If you return to a Realm you have already raided they have improved their defences.

Knights hate raiders as a whole, but you might be able to talk them around to you personally. Depends what you do. Are you really all that bad?

Wait, Vikings weren’t really like this

Who said anything about Vikings? See also my universal caveat: MYTH NOT HISTORY.

Enjoy!

Make sure to spread the word!

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 15 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland is Reality

After a week of funding, Mythic Bastionland has surpassed the Kickstarter totals for Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland combined!


As you might expect, the last week has been taken up by dealing with all of this, so I hope you'll forgive a lighter blogpost this week. Next week's post will be an untested, slightly silly variant of Mythic Bastionland for those who are already bored of the core game before it's even out. 

Oh, and yesterday I did an AMA on Reddit, which you can read here. 

Until next week, I appreciate everybody helping to spread the Mythic word. 

Tuesday 7 November 2023

Mythic Bastionland is LIVE

 It's finally time!

Mythic Bastionland is LIVE NOW over on Kickstarter, so go and pledge if you want a copy of the book.


Feel like sharing the link around? Thanks, that would be great!

Having a great day-one really helps with visibility on Kickstarter, so I appreciate everyone who's able to jump on board right away. 

Wednesday 1 November 2023

The Toil

 First of all, go and follow Mythic Bastionland on Kickstarter

Less than a week till launch, and as you'd imagine I'm quite busy!

So this week, enjoy a little art preview.

THE AMBER KNIGHT


THE EYE

Make sure to spread the word!

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 25 October 2023

That Feeling of Glaive on Gambeson

First of all, go and follow Mythic Bastionland on Kickstarter



Okay, onto the post.

What use is an RPG if it doesn't have a giant list of weapons and armour?

After all, this was one of my favourite pages of my first D&D book.




Not to mention this beauty.


In the process of writing Mythic Bastionland I've done a bit of deep-diving into medieval weapons and armour, so the red flags in those pieces leap out at me now.

Still, I remember loving those spreads because somehow the art makes it all feel very real. 

But what does it matter? That's for D&D, a fantasy game, so who cares if the weapons favour style over historicity or practicality?

Mythic Bastionland is also overtly Myth not History. I have that phrase written at the bottom of my notes doc for this game. So why have I been spending so much time thinking about authenticity?

Let's break this down into weapons and armour. 


Weapons in Mythic Bastionland largely follow on from Into the Odd and Electric Bastionland. You've got single handed weapons that do d6 or d8 damage, then two-handed weapons that do d8 or d10, though the larger die types are a little easier to get hold of in this setting. Swords get special treatment, rolling multiple dice, which in this system results in you keeping the single highest result, so they're more reliable and have some extra benefits when you dig into the Feat and Gambit systems. 

Bulky is gone. Since you're all Knights with, at the very least, a steed, it's easier to justify extra load. You might have a Squire to carry even more stuff, so let's just not bother tracking it at all. 

There's also much less focus on hauling treasure back from dungeons, so fewer interesting decisions to be had about what stuff you leave behind. 

Instead, the interesting decisions around weapons in this game are:

  • What do I use in each hand? Two-hander? Dual weapons? Weapon and shield? It's not super complex but there are definitely times you might consider switching up for a particular situation.
  • If my weapon does something fancy, like the Talon Knight's hookhammer (bonus when leaping down onto the enemy), how do I set that up?
  • Am I going to be fighting somewhere that makes certain weapons especially appealing or awkward to use?

Now that last one not have lots of rules support in the game. There's a mention that long weapons are impaired in tight spaces, and you've got things like skeletons being resistant to piercing attacks, but looking at the weapon list there's zero difference between a Spear (d8 hefty) and Axe (d8 hefty). 

Except that Spear is obviously going to be longer than the axe, so you can probably use it to fight over a barricade, or from behind an ally. 

And of course the Axe is better at breaking down doors. Obviously the spear is no good for that.

So the book doesn't present rules for these things because you already know those rules. I suspect this might rub some readers the wrong way, but I do hope that in most at-the-table situations these things just sort of... work naturally. 

In terms of building a weapons list that's appropriate to the implied era of Mythic Bastionland, I'm clearly drawing on the medieval period. 

But which bit of it? Early-medieval makes sense as the setting for Arthurian Myth.

So javelins and bows rather than longbows and crossbows. Spears and axes rather than swords and halberds.

Except... Arthurian myths very often take a more generous approach when it comes to equipment. Most images of a Knight are drawing on late-medieval or even early-Renaissance stuff. So we throw those fancy weapons back in, but just make them rare. Only very few of the Knights actually start with a sword. That guard can have a halberd though, it just looks right. 

So as with so many before me, I'm walking a tightrope of wanting some of that historical feel while also wanting that mythic freedom to pull in things that feel right stylistically, if not realistically. The focus on rarity rather than cost should help with this, as owning a sword isn't about getting enough money. There isn't even a price listed for each weapon. Instead, you've got to actually find somebody who wants to sell one or can make you one from scratch. At this point you might as well just kill another Knight and take theirs, perhaps grab their Holding while you're at it. 

That still counts as Protecting the Realm, right? I mean it's probably safer under my watch. 


Armour also follows the same baseline of the previous games in the series. Armour gives you a point of armour, a shield gives you another. 

Except now I've added helms and plates (extra armour worn to battle) as two other ways to grab armour points, giving a fully armoured Knight Armour 4, something unfathomable in Into the Odd

Part of this is balanced out by the general increase in damage output, but that's not really the whole point. Again it comes down to creating interesting choices.

Let's say you own the full set of armour: coat, plates, helm, shield. You aren't just walking around suited-up all day every day. The general assumption is that helms and plates are removed when you're travelling or socialising, and we all know that shields can be shattered. 

Here armour is less about permanently etching the highest number you can onto your character sheet, and more about considering the situational nature of your protective gear. 

If you really want to kill a Knight then facing them in an open battle means you're facing the full wall of steel. Why not just come at them with daggers when they're out riding in just their gambeson? Or invite them into your home and kill them there... wait, what sort of game is this again?

Again, I want gear in this game to feel more nuanced than "when can I buy that fancy gear", instead looking at the actual decisions somebody would need to make about their equipment. 

As a side note, I do get a small pleasure from including layers of armour here. Coats represent flexible protection that you can generally wear all day (mail, gambeson) while Plates are the hard stuff layered on top for battle (plate, brigandine, splint). Then you've got the self-explanatory helms and shields. There's definitely a sort of paper-doll appeal where I can visualise very clearly how a character looks different based on which combination of their armour they're currently equipped with, slotting the paper armour on top of their outline. I think today... the hauberk under the brigandine, the great helm on top. 

I guess I'm just not used to the novelty of considering what an individual character looks like in various grades of protection. In so many games it can feel like they're welded inside their harness of choice.

While I'm not looking to provide an accurate simulation of the weapons and armour of a particular period of history, I want the players to look at their gear and interact with it in a way that makes it feel real

Even if it's all just a myth. 

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Fire from Sparks

EDIT: Oh, I messed this up and posted this week's Patreon post instead of last week's! That means you'll get last week's post... next week. Hope that makes sense.

It's a busy week over here! Just 21 days till Mythic Bastionland goes live on Kickstarter. 

With me being somewhat pressed for time today I've decided to use this as an example of just how quickly Spark Tables can help you to generate an interesting location and the people within it.

This can be done ahead of a session to add to your notes or returned to when improvisation is needed.


For fun, let's use all 18 of them, focusing in on a single hex.

OK LET'S GO

NATURE

LAND 1/2 - Barren Heath

Simple enough. So you'd normally see lots of shrubs but even for a heath this is quite sparse, bordering on a wasteland if not for the patches of grass and heather.

SKY 2/6 - Violet Mist

Even the low-hanging clouds here have a hint of lavender to them, perhaps melting into the heather in places.

WATER 5/4 - Cobalt Churn

Despite being barren there are brooks and streams, babbling violently in deep blue, like the water can't wait to get out of here. 

WEATHER 8/7 - Solid Thunder

There's a constant low rumbling in the air, the violet clouds darkening to black in the distance, as if thunder waits on every horizon. 

FLORA 5/12 - Towering Roots

Breaking up the open areas of heather are huge, archlike, exposed roots, not visibly part of any nearby tree, presumably remnants of a time when this was all primordial forest.

FAUNA 5/3 - Mischievous Canines

Packs of small wolves lurk amongst the roots and shrubs, generally living as scavengers, but also known for stealing food from travellers . Their bark can imitate a human scream, using it to lure travellers away from their camps, leaving their meals unguarded. 

FEATURE 8/2 - Veiled Seat

The most prominent natural landmark is a thronelike rock formation atop a lone hill, the violet mists normally concealing it behind a lavender veil. 

WONDER 9/10 - Temptation Wind

On especially windy days it's said that the violet mists stir up aromas to mislead travellers. Scents of home, fresh-baked bread, fermenting mead, or sweet fruit stewing. 

OTHERWORLD 1/7 - Acidic Cavern

Rumours claim a cavern lies somewhere among the roots, leading down into a warren of caves dripping with corrosive bile. Prized by alchemists, but a deathtrap to explorers. 

Okay so what about the Holding that sits in this place?

CIVILISATION

HOLDING 4/8 - Ancient Dome

The domed keep of this place has always been here. Some say it was coated in gold in its original purpose, but now it's cracked, bare grey stone.

BAILEY 1/4 - Filthy Fountain 

Within the walls, an at-first impressive fountain trickles dull, grey water. Once it was prized for its healing qualities, but now nobody dares to drink from it. 

KEEP 10/12 - Cauldron & Shields

Within the Keep, the ruler still keeps the great cauldron at the centre of the hall, a relic from the dome's lost purpose. The walls are lined with the shields of Knights who died fighting here, whether they were attackers or defenders. 

PERSON 11/8 - Soft & Cynical

The portly ruler recently took to the throne, and is a rare example of a non-Knight taking up a position of rulership. Sceptical of the old ways of Seers and Knights, this ruler seems less enamoured with the traditions that surround his position. 

AMBITION 3/12 - Status (because of) Hatred

It goes further than that. He outright hates Knights. He thinks a commoner like him should be on the Seat of Power, and in fact every Holding would be improved by the rule of somebody who understands normal folk. He knows he has to play the political game, but misses no opportunity to undermine the authority of Knights. 

RELATIONSHIP 10/7 - Sworn Rival

Here a neighbouring ruler goes beyond just being a rival, it's sworn on something. Perhaps this ruler felt a nearby Knight was so dangerous that they visited a Seer, swearing to defeat the Knight in return for the Seer's blessing. Quite why this cynical man would want that is unclear, but we can work that out as we go. 

DRAMA 8/2 Revelation & Poison

A plot to poison this ruler was recently foiled! The traitor was revealed and executed, perhaps a council member, leaving an opening for ambitious player-Knights. 

WOE 7/1 - Mysterious Disease

The commoners of this domain have their own problems, people falling ill seemingly without a common link, a sickness of the lungs that can appear anywhere and strike anyone.

QUEST 10/10 - Salvage Holding

With his own resources tied up in the Drama and Woe above, the ruler is missing out on an opportunity. A nearby fort has lain abandoned for a generation now, sitting atop land of no worth, the commoners having long-since moved onto other domains. Anybody who swears loyalty to the ruler of this hex will have his blessing in going out to reclaim this Fort as a new holding. 

And so the d12s have spoken.


See, that gives us plenty to work off all within a single hex. 

Check out the Mythic Bastionland Quickstart and try them out for yourself.

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 11 October 2023

The Myth of Balance

MYTHIC BASTIONLAND QUICKSTART IS HERE!


This has everything you need to run the game, the full rules section, and 12 Knights and Myths to get you started. Also filled with amazing art from Alec Sorensen. 

This one accurately shows how it feels to return to Twitter in order to promote an upcoming Kickstarter

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As I previously wrote, balance isn’t about making things equal, it’s about preserving interesting choices.

So I’ve been doing a lot of balance tweaking to Mythic Bastionland recently, especially in the use of Feats and Gambits.

Feats are special things that Knights can do at the cost of losing d6 points in a specific Virtue. When you hit zero in any Virtue you’re Exhausted and can’t use Feats.

Gambits are special combat actions that an attacker can perform by discarding an attack die showing 4 or higher. Stuff like disarming, dismounting, pushing, pinning, or just an extra point of damage.

For Feats, a few things came up in testing that I wanted to try to fix:

  • Some Feats felt  extremely useful, especially the one that lets you discard attack dice against you. You basically needed to learn to use this one if you wanted to stay alive, and in some cases there were very clear situations where using this Feat was a no-brainer decision.
  • Some Feats felt very niche in their use. One granted an indiscriminate Blast to your attack, making it essential against Warbands and large groups but you’d never use it in a duel. Because each Feat is tied to a specific Virtue, which are rolled at random, it can feel bad when you realise your high score is in the super-niche Feat, and your low score is in the absolutely essential survival Feat.
  • Having a very low score in any one Virtue meant that you were at a high risk of becoming Exhausted and losing access to all of your Feats, even if you had a high score in the Virtue that Feat used.

So here’s what’s changed:

  • The defensive Feat that previously removed enemy attack die now rerolls them, keeping the new result. Now it’s a bit more situational, best used when that enemy d10 rolls a 9 or 10, instead of an absolutely essential cog in the system that every player would expect to use multiple times per battle.
  • The Blast effect has been rolled into the Smite Feat that grants extra damage, giving you the choice of which effect to gain. So now there’s just one Feat for both variants of “do a big attack”. Replacing this is a new Feat that interacts with the Gambit system (see below).
  • Dropping to 0 in a Virtue now only prevents use of that particular Feat, and comes with an additional downside. 0 Vigour is now Exhausted meaning you can’t attack after moving. 0 Clarity means you’re Exposed. 0 Spirit means your attacks are Impaired. You still really want to avoid dropping to 0, but doing so doesn’t prevent you using the other Feats.

Gambits raised some of their own issues in testing.

  • By throwing a Smite onto your attack, granting an extra d12 attack die, it was quite easy to dismount or disarm somebody, both things that can be hugely impactful on a combat. In a joust the former might even end up earning an instant victory. Similarly, it felt a bit too easy to just shatter a wooden shield at the start of a combat.
  • Sometimes players want to try a disarm or dismount manoeuvre, but their specific weapon just wasn’t very likely to cause the result. They could Smite to increase their chances but it felt a bit at odds with the idea of a Smite as a more powerful attack.
  • It felt a bit odd using Gambits to push or pin strong enemies. Naturally the GM can just say “no, the ogre is too big to push” or grant the target a Save, but I wanted some stronger guidance in place.

And again, here’s what I’m trying out:

  • Gambit effects that directly affect the enemy give the target a Save, and weapons and shields are just trapped, not disarmed or broken. However, if you use a die showing 8+, instead of the normal 4+ required for a Gambit, then it’s a Strong Gambit and you bypass the Save or attempt a stronger effect such as breaking shields and disarming weapons. This means large weapons are much more suited to perform strong gambits, especially if you add in a Smite, but even then it’s not something you can count on occurring. A Smiting Knight with a Poleaxe (d10) is just below 60%.
  • A new Feat, Focus, lets the attacker use any die to perform a Gambit, instead of requiring 4+, giving a Clarity Save to avoid Fatigue. This means the high Clarity Knight is more effective at spotting and exploiting the more subtle opportunities, but the high Vigour Knight is still more effective at smashing shields and dismounting enemy Knights.
  • Even with the added complexity of Gambits I think it helps that none of these effects feel essential and you only really need to think about this little subsystem if you want to do something fancy, otherwise taking the Bolster effect to cause extra damage when it makes sense.

Again, this is a bit of a call to action. Just because your game doesn’t lean into “game balance” in the traditional sense doesn’t mean there aren’t balancing issues you should be keeping watch for.

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Opt-In Creativity

Note: I've changed a few details of this post since it was published on Patreon, as I've tweaked some of the rules I'm talking about here and want to avoid confusion.

TTRPGs are innately creative. 

At the very least, even if you're playing in "pawn mode", seeing your character as a playing piece to push around the map, there's an expected amount of creativity above sitting down to play a videogame. You have to answer that question "what do you do?" quite often without having a straightforward answer on your character sheet.

BUT my personal tastes are that a moderate amount of required creativity can go a long way.

You know how some games do that thing where you deal lethal damage to an opponent and the GM says...

"Okay... tell me how you kill them!"

As a player, some days I enjoy that, others I don't. 

Some days my creativity is focused almost wholly on answering "what do you do?" and answering other questions like "how does your character feel about this?" or "what person from your character's background shows up here?" can feel like more pressure than I want out of a leisure activity.

It's part of the reason that some players gravitate to Fighters in old D&D, seeing the whole "all you can do on your turn is attack!" complaint as a feature, not a bug. 

But of course I'm not advocating for removal of all creative prompts for players. On other days I love answering those character questions, inventing gruesome attack descriptions, and luxuriating in a silly voice.

Which is why I try to design my games with Opt-in Creativity.

There are openings for creativity, but there's another road to take if you aren't feeling it. Even simple stuff like having a list of sample character names in the book can help here.

A recent Mythic Bastionland rule change got me thinking about this.

Previously, if you rolled the maximum possible value on your attack die (i.e. 6 on a d6) you got to describe an Onslaught, an additional effect to the attack, stuff like pushing, pinning, disarming, dismounting, smashing shields, but it was left open to player creativity within certain bounds.

This is not Opt-in Creativity, and I've seen the downsides of it in the flesh.

Some players cheer when they roll an Onslaught, carefully consider what to do, and describe how they drive the enemy onto the slippery ground as they fight them back.

Others freeze. They don't know what to do. None of the suggestions seem all that useful in this specific situation. Errmm... I don't know, I guess I disarm them if that's okay.

Well Onslaughts are gone now. Not entirely for that reason, but that's part of it.

Now, when you roll your attack dice you may discard a die showing 4 or higher to perform a Gambit, 8 or higher giving you an increased effect. It's the same effect as an Onslaught, but requiring you to think of a fancy thing you want to do you can always choose to just add 1 damage to the attack instead. 

After a few tests there are some nice benefits here:

  • Having that +1 damage option means there's never a situation where you roll a Gambit and feel like it's going to waste, or you're lacking the creative juice to think of something interesting.
  • They aren't just random windfalls, they'll often come with a choice. If you roll an 8 and a 6 then using the 6 for a Gambit is usually a no brainer, but what about a 5 and a 3? Are you willing to trade 2 damage now to make the long-term situation better by possibly dismounting that Knight? 
  • It makes weapons with bigger die-types more likely to trigger Gambits. That d10 billhook is going to generate Gambits much more often than the d6 handaxe, and more often at increased effect, so it really shows off those big weapons as having the utility that they should. If you don't want to get dismounted then don't go near those two guys with polearms!
  • While Shields (d4 damage) don't often trigger Gambits on their own, they mean a solo attacker can use their main weapon to perform a Gambit while still doing some damage. 
  • With dice used for Gambits being discarded it makes Smites more useful, as that adds a d12 to your pool, but it also makes Deny (formerly Foil/Deflect urgh, why do I rename things so often?) more useful, as you can use it to reduce the enemy's gambit die, or the remaining damage dice. 
  • Say you team up four against one, perhaps a few of you Smiting for extra dice. You're rolling a big pool of dice, and you're probably going to have a few spare 4+ dice ripe for Gambits. This might just lead to a high-damage attack, but it can create fun moments where one Knight shatters the target's shield, another surrounds them, cutting off their retreat, and the third delivers the wounding blow. 

So while there are lots of little decisions in there there's always an easy way out if you don't want to engage too deeply with the system. 

Oh, and we have a (non-final) cover now.


Expect the Quickstart doc with updated rules around the start of next week. 

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 



Wednesday 27 September 2023

The State of Mythic Bastionland

I'm still toiling away on the pre-Kickstarter Quickstart version of Mythic Bastionland, which is taking slightly longer than expected. In short, I want this version to be as close to the final rules as I can manage at this point, and I want to get as much of Alec's artwork in there as possible. At the moment I'd put the ETA in early October. 

In previous versions of the game the changes have lurched back and forth between various levels of abstraction. 

Abstraction is useful, perhaps crucial, in how I like my games to work. I like players to have the information to make meaningful decisions, and abstraction really helps with this.

If I say "your sword arm feels tired, and the impact of that hammer took your breath away, but you're still up on your feet" it's not entirely clear how much serious harm you took or how close you are to dying.

If I add "your Guard is reduced to 0 and you lost 4 Vigour, so you're down to Vigour 6" then you know 3 damage will deal a Mortal Wound and 6 will Slay you. 

So I guess I like to have it both ways. Abstraction to represent a fair and visible set of consequences for player actions, but avoiding going so far down that path that we lose track of the narrative situation or feel like we're playing a numbers game. 

The upcoming Quickstart release feels like a nice balance between the two. 


Here are some of the changes you can expect.

Landmarks
These were probably too abstract for my tastes, with each type of Landmark simply causing loss or recovery of a specific Virtue when encountered. The hex crawling procedure is going to feel a touch more abstract than the dungeon-crawling of Into the Odd just because of the distances and timescales involved, but I wanted to pull it back from the precipice of feeling like a boardgame mechanic. 

For example, Dwellings previously restored Vigour, but now they're simply noted as a place you might be able to find hospitality, which is the standard means of recovering Vigour. The effect is the same, Dwellings are good for recovering Vigour, but the presentation is focused on what a Dwelling actually is, rather than being the hex you land on to recover Vigour. 

Sanctums work in the same way, each now housing a Seer, who have been mostly booted out of standard Holdings. Sanctums previously restored Clarity, but getting guidance from a Seer is the main way to restore Clarity, so the Sanctum's benefit is now tied to a specific concrete action (which you might not get if you piss off the Seer) instead of being an innate effect of the hex. 

The negative Landmarks have also been changed, and still carry risks, but present the Knights with some sort of choice or problem instead of just whacking them with the consequences. 

Remedies
Here's an example of a mechanic where I've actually added more abstraction. 

Previously I wanted to avoid a limit on how many Remedies that can be carried, but I've yielded to reason and said that each Remedy represents a large package of stuff and so a character or beast of burden can generally just carry one.

Yeah this is literally the only piece of equipment in the game with a hard rule limiting how many can be carried. Rules as written you can carry a billion shields but I don't feel like that needs abstracting because it's not that likely to come up and I think most referees would work it out just fine. 

If the Knights want to load up a cart with Sustenance ahead of a big fight then go for it, but I'd imagine that comes with its own complications. 

Glory
What is Glory worth?


There was a point where I thought about stealing point 4 from this blogpost and having Glory simply go up by one point every session you play, then you can roll against your Glory to see if somebody has heard of you.

But the actual point of Glory is to have the game feel different after 3 sessions, and even more different after 12 sessions, so I linked it to the idea of Worthiness. More Glory means your knight will naturally stumble into opportunities to take a place in court, and eventually rule their own domain. 

And, of course, maybe go and Find the City.

The specific ways of earning Glory have changed throughout past versions, but right now when a Myth is resolved (one way or another) every Knight involved gets 1 Glory. Are you in the story they'll tell about this Myth? Take your Glory. That's it.

Oh and you passively gain a Glory when you advance to a new Age. When we come back after a time skip things should feel a bit different, right?

It's an abstraction, because one point of Glory doesn't really mean anything to a Knight, but there are real titles and opportunities to be gained as you grow in Glory, so it's more rooted in the reality of the world than something like XP or Level. 

And no, you don't get Glory for "protecting the realm" or "honouring the seers". You'll probably do those things anyway for one or more of these reasons:

  • You took an oath!
  • You want to protect (most of) the people you meet
  • Seers are useful to keep on your side even if they're annoying
  • The realm might eventually become your realm and you'd like it to be intact

And if you don't want to do those things then what do I care? It's your Knight. 

If you want to be first to grab the preview doc when it's released then go and follow the Kickstarter now

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Wednesday 20 September 2023

Mythic Sparks

In Mythic Bastionland I have a bunch of prompts across the bottom of each of the 72 Knight/Myth spreads, meaning you can roll a d6 and a d12 to get a random entry for Person, Name, Characteristic, Object, Beast, State, Theme, Dwelling, Sanctum, Monument, Hazard, Curse, Ruin. 

Yet Spark Tables still call to me, so I've thrown in a page of them as well. 


This should be especially useful for getting quick descriptions for wilderness hexes and holdings, as that was a bit of a gap in the game previously.

Oh... and that frame looks pretty nice too, right?

Enjoy!

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Wednesday 13 September 2023

Death

From the Oddpocrypha section of Mythic Bastionland, talking about Death. The keen-eyed among you will notice some terminology change from the current playtest document, but the new version will be released soon.

PLAY

Tal has been spotted sneaking into a guarded tower. Their Spirit has already been depleted on the journey and from using Deflect, and now their Guard has been depleted by the first volley of arrows. Moss ducks out of sight of the enemies but Tal runs for the tower.

The sentries roll high on their attack dice and Tal has no choice but to take the damage reducing their VIG to 0, meaning they are Slain outright. 

Ref: Oh, wow. One of the arrows flies straight into Tal’s throat… they fall to the ground, a pool of blood forming. They’re slain.

Moss: What!?

Tal: Argh, I knew that was a dumb thing to do. Is there anything else I can do?

Ref: I mean you’re out of Guard, Spirit, and Vigour, so I think that’s it for Tal.

Tal sighs and folds up the character sheet.

Ref: Well we have less than an hour left tonight, so I’d recommend we sort your new character at the start of the next session, or you can do it at home. You can make a brand new Knight or you could take on a successor. You had that squire who was injured, maybe they could get Knighted for themselves.

Tal: Yeah. Urgh, I should have ran away.

Moss: Hey we’ve both been taking risks, this could have happened to me. Can I recover the body? Tal deserves a proper funeral after all.

Ref: Oh definitely, we’ll get to that. In the mean time I’ll get Tal a character for now. Moss, what’s your plan after recovering Tal?

Moss: Well I need to get to safety for the night. Oh, and I look for Tal’s Raven!

Ref: Sure. Tal, you okay?

Tal: Yeah, I guess I was just getting attached to this character. 

Ref sets up Tal with a character for the rest of the session, using a prompt to get a new character to meet Moss as quickly as possible. Between sessions Tal rolls a new Knight to join the company, the Riddle Knight. 

THOUGHTS

Death is tricky, but I believe a game based around Knights benefits from its presence. 

It’s usually considered a sort of “fail state” of the game, and Mythic Bastionland embraces the more unpredictable side of death instead of great sacrifices scripted ahead of time. If your Guard, Spirit, and Vigour are all getting low then it’s advisable to do everything you can to avoid taking further damage. 

Although it’s a failure of that character, who would surely rather be alive, it’s not a failure of the ongoing story of the game. All Knights die in the end. This is why they seek successors, heirs, squires. 

Many referees would be tempted to find a way to keep Tal alive. Dying to the arrow of a nameless sentry feels like an ignoble end for a protagonist, but we can see that Tal had opportunities to avoid this. As a Referee, if in doubt, make sure players understand this risk when they take such an action. 

Of course, it still feels bad. The player might feel embarrassed that they let it happen, or sad that they won’t get to continue using their character. It’s perfectly fine to take a moment to acknowledge these feelings, and make sure that the player doesn’t feel the death was somehow unfair or unwarranted. Here I prefer an impartial approach. If the rules say they’re slain, then they’re slain.

The Referee didn’t kill Tal, the arrows did. 

The feelings will remain, but the important thing is that the player is angry at the arrows, not the Referee.

Ref does the right thing here by getting Tal right back into the game with a new character, even if it’s just a temporary one for this session. Elevating an existing NPC to become Tal’s new character would be great, but sometimes none of the existing characters quite fit, so it makes sense to just introduce a new Knight. 

In most cases I’d default to starting the new Knight as a Young Petty Knight, but if the rest of the Company are quite established then it might make more sense to start them as an Exemplar. 

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Wednesday 6 September 2023

My First Traveller Supplement

Note: As usual, this post is coming a week later than it was written for Patreon. I'm back in good health now!

So one of the boons of being self-employed is that you can just take a day off work whenever you want.

The reality is that you usually feel like you absolutely must not do that.

So today I'm not feeling great. Nothing too serious, but I might have phoned in sick in my previous job. 

Can you see where this is going?

While I've been working as normal today, my mind has crumbled at the task of writing a thoughtful post for the week, so instead you can look at some pictures from a book that came in the post for me.

It's a reprinting of the Usborne Book of the Future from 1979. A familiar sight, even though it predated my birth. Much has been said about the charm of the 1970s vision of the future, but this book in particular fills me with warm nostalgia. 

I even reckon this makes for the decent seeds of a Traveller supplement, or Ask the Stars if you're fancy. I especially love the page on "Ristos".

So enjoy, and I'll be back on top form next week.







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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Striders & Riders

Want to use power-walkers or Mech-like units in The Doomed?

How about some cavalry or bikers?

I've got you covered with Striders & Riders.

DISCLAIMER These rules are completely untested and likely broken.

STRIDERS
Great striding machines

Striders can be taken by any Faction and must be assigned to a Pilot, who can be any member of the Warband. When buying equipment, equip it to either the Pilot or the Strider.

Pilot and Strider act as if they were a single unit, receiving 3 actions as normal.

Use the Pilot’s QL and Skills for attacks. Attacks can only use weapons equipped to the Strider.

Use the Strider’s QL and Skills for all other actions.

When inside the Strider the maximum actions for Shooting and Fighting apply to each individual weapon, so a Strider with 3 ranged weapons could Shoot with each of them once per turn, using 3 Actions.

When the unit would be Killed the Pilot ejects safely. The Strider is disabled and now the Pilot can only use their own equipment.

STRIDER CLASSES

Mountain-Class (3+ Tough) [6pts]
Toughened Hull: Ignore any Shock rolls you wish.
Shield (+1 to Saves when Readied)

Raptor-Class (3+ Nimble) [5pts]
Shield (+1 to Saves when Readied)

Factory Class (3+) [4pts]
Tool-Claw (M1x3)

RIDERS
The cavalry of the doomed world

Riders can be taken by any Faction.

Every Rider must have a Mount. They are treated as one unit for all purposes, but each action is assigned to either the rider or mount, each with their own limit for specific actions. The combined unit of Rider and Mount still receive 3 Actions per turn as normal.

So a turn could look like this:

  • Action 1: The Rider uses Move and the combined unit moves.
  • Action 2: The Mount uses Move and the combined unit moves without needing to roll, as this is the Mount’s first move.
  • Action 3: The Mount uses Move, this time requiring a roll using their QL and Skills.

When they take Damage the player decides whether to Save as the Rider or Mount.

The first time the unit would be Wounded the Rider is instead Dismounted and the Mount is removed from the battle. The Rider suffers Shock but ignores any results that would have them die on this roll.

Use common sense when determining which terrain a rider can move through or over, but err on the side of generosity with a creative explanation.

MOUNTS

Steed (Tough 5+) [2pts]
Cannot carry equipment
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.

Beast (Fierce 4+) [5pts]
Cannot carry equipment
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.
Claws (M3x1)

Machine (Nimble 5+) [3pts]
Can be fitted with Ranged Weapons.
Ram: Move into contact with an enemy and cause 1 Damage to them.

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Tuesday 29 August 2023

MYTHIC BASTIONLAND - Art and Kickstarter Reveal


That's right, Alec Sorensen is back for Mythic Bastionland, creating all of the artwork in the book.

It's coming to Kickstarter on 7th November 2023, so go and follow it.

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Remedies

This is an idea I've teased for a while, and will be making its full debut in the next release of the Mythic Bastionland playtest, which you can expect around the start of September.

This release will also come with... something cool.

Remedies make up the third part of the trinity when it comes to recovering from Virtue Loss, something that's bound to happen to your Knights. Previously recovering your Virtues required visiting a specific type of Landmark or performing a specific action. So recovering WIT required visiting a Sanctum or receiving guidance from a Seer. 

Remedies are a third method of recovery, representing consumable wares that can be broken into while travelling, offering a specific type of relief.

Sustenance restores your Vigour, representing nourishing food and drink.

Stimulants restore your Wit, representing herbal and alchemical substances.

Sacraments restore your Grace, representing components used in ritual or performance.

These require a whole Phase of the day to use and benefit all company present. It's as much about the experience as the actual material contents. Cracking open that local delicacy you've been saving for a shared meal, savouring it over time and conversation. That's what restores your Vigour, not just the act of eating some food. 

They also add some nice meat to the trade system, functioning as a broad representation of trade goods that the players want for themselves but which carry their own value, especially when taken further from their point of origin. A settlement that has no Sanctum or Seer nearby would highly value any Stimulants that can be brought in.

I'm tinkering with some guidance to prevent Knights stockpiling too many remedies. At the moment it's just a vague mention that hoarding stuff is Unknightly, while generosity is held as a noble trait. I thought about placing a hard limit on the number of Remedies a Company can carry, but it feels at odds with the way I tend to write games. 

As always, testing will tell.

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If you want to support my blog, podcasts, and video content then head over to my Patreon. 

Wednesday 16 August 2023

GenCon Wrapup

 I landed back in the UK this morning after my first trip to GenCon, so I'm afraid today's post is going to be a jet-lagged stream of consciousness structured the only way I know how.

Surface Level GenCon
  • The Doomed sold out on the first morning, so Osprey ordered more for the Friday. The restock sold out in minutes too. As such, I only got to sign a single book, the lone signed copy in existence. I joked that if my plane crashed on the way home it would become a priceless artifact (it didn't, and I'm safely on ground).
  • I played in games of Traveller and Pendragon, both of which were fun but neither really gave me the special stuff I wanted from those two particular systems. I guess squeezing Traveller's very particular spacebox and Pendragon's long form campaign into a limited time-slot is a big ask, but I'm glad to got to tick these two classics off my list in some form. 
  • I attended a Marc Miller seminar. His clear love for both Traveller and RPGs in general really shines through, and his thoughts of the game as both his legacy and something that exists within the wider community was moving, even for a cold-hearted cynic like me. Or perhaps I was just tired. 
The Real GenCon
  • It's a clich√©, but the after-hours games, dinners, and drinks that spill out into Indianapolis really were the real GenCon and I'm immensely grateful for the hospitality of those who organised stuff and shepherded me in the right direction. You know who you are.
  • Even in the daytime, prowling the trade hall felt like a string of random encounters, noticing people I knew working on stalls or being ambushed from the aisles, without exception these were all a joy. 
  • Even though I knew that GenCon took over Indianapolis for the week, I was surprised that it appeared to be happening in my hotel lobby even when I arrived late at night. It was even happening in the departures lounge of the airport as I waited for my flight home. Not sure I have the energy for such total immersion, but if you do then this is the place to be. 
Would I recommend it?
  • I got very lucky with my journey being mostly undisrupted, I know others weren't so fortunate as we had some turbulent weather. Even so, it's a pretty brutal trek from the UK. 
  • On top of the travel, this is not a cheap trip. Hotels charge big prices and if you're sticking to the general convention area it's easy to spend a lot on normal day-to-day stuff without realising it. 
  • If the above are things you can work around I absolutely recommend visiting GenCon at least once. 
I booked this trip as a possible once-in-a-lifetime thing, hoping to meet up with some people, maybe talk a bit of business on the side, but nothing too serious. Instead I found it inspiring as a creator, fruitful as a business trip, and a chance to turn names-on-the-screen into new friendships. 

Next year? 

Ask me when the jet lag wears off. 

Wednesday 9 August 2023

The Coven

I'm away at GenCon this week, and expect to be shell-shocked next week, so expect things to be a little different during this disruption.

If you see me at GenCon, do grab me and say hi.

Now as such, this week is just a little Mythic Bastionland preview of a yet-unseen Myth entry.


THE COVEN 

In verdy whisper, on thundry roar
In starry flare, thrice-membered lore

OMENS

1. The Cloud Hag descends from above, bombarding the company with gusts of wind. She’ll leave when she feels strong.

2. Under a canopy of knotted trees, a cauldron bubbles. Objects dipped in glow with darkness. For the rest of the day the object is invisible to any that wish to harm you. If living matter touches the brew then one of the Coven bursts from within and admonishes for the intrusion.

3. The Garden Witch stoops about in the shrubbery, gently removing snails from leaves before eating them. She offers some of her snails, which allow the eater to speak with plants for a few minutes.

4. Amid a field of lush growth, a perfect circle of dead plants. Plants entering the circle wither and die. The Garden witch has planted a saltstone causing this.

5. The wind drops suddenly, then the screech of the Achantrix announces there will be no night today. The next Night phase is treated as daytime.

6. The Coven fight to the death, nothing able to quell their hated for each other. The victor mourns, then enters exile.

CAST
Always in conflict (see below). In mortal hands their trinkets turn to sand after use.

The Cloud Hag, Nimbrel the powerful
VIG 17, WIT 13, GRA 12, 12GD
Wind orb (d10 blast), fog cloak (A1 and fly)
Wants to feel above everybody else.

The Garden Witch, Tanselie the petty
VIG 10, WIT 13, GRA 15, 8GD
Four bony arms (d6 each), petal locket (endless water when watering plants)
Wants to nurture the small, cut back the big.

The Achantrix, Scathara the perfect 
VIG 15, WIT 13, GRA 18, 10GD
Bright sickle (2d8), star ring (disobeying a command by the wearer causes d8 GRA loss)
Wants to expel all darkness from the world.

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Wednesday 2 August 2023

15mm SciFi Blocks - Small Blocks

I dipped into 15mm scale for some Bolt Action recently, and I'm really charmed by how individually based figures look in this scale. It's also a great scale for having tanks look impactful on the board without being obscenely large. 

So I'm striving to put together a set of modular 15mm terrain that I can use for Sci-Fi themed games. I'd like to try out 5 Parsecs from Home, Stargrave, maybe 5150 Star Army but naturally this is also a good fit for The Doomed (though not sure I fancy kitbashing at 15mm scale).

I already have some woods, rough ground, hills, ruined brick buildings, wreckage heaps, and hedges from my Bolt Action modelling, so here I wanted to make something that I could cram into a small box and use to create a wide range of sci-fi battlefields.

It was Jenga time. 


I picked up a regular sized tower and a small tower. For now I've just been working with the small blocks. At 15mm scale they're like a chest-high wall, or waist-high block if laid flat. I figured if I painted them up in a variety of colours they could be used for interior features or battlefield scatter, with the larger blocks providing the significant structural features. I've also got a stack of thin wooden coasters that I'll paint up as modular floor tiles. 


First step was to rip into them with a pair of sprue cutters and stab some bullet holes. 


Then sand them down a bit so that I don't give myself splinters. A 15mm guy for scale. 


I had a pile of wooden offcuts from various other projects, so I guess these work as greeblies and some larger pieces. 


My hope is that I can fit all of the small and large blocks into one of these thin boxes, with the tiles going in the second box. 


Painting these is actually quite daunting, as there's none of the usual detail that lets me get away with just priming, drybrushing, and washing until it looks good enough for the table. Prime them grey. 


Then I tried stippling, smearing, sponging, whatever desperate methods I could pull out of the box. 


Back in for some more coats. Just trying to make them look weathered and give a sense of scale, some more successful than others.


And finally tidy up some of the mess and give final coats to the bits that need it. 


Let's see how they look on the battlemat with some WW2 minis (my 15mm SciFi stuff is still in transit). 


It's hard to shake the toybox feel, but I think it works for purpose so far.


I think the tiles and larger blocks will help bring it all together. 


Then testing it on the black side of the mat as a makeshift interior. 


As you can see, these walls are just low enough to not quite block line of sight. 


But I think there's potential here. 


All in all I'm calling it a mixed success, and I'm exciting to get more of the set built. 

This week I'm at GenCon! Do say hello if you see me, but expect something of a minimalist post while I'm away. 

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This post was originally sent as a reward to all Patreon supporters, and is released freely on this site the week after its original publication.

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